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Social Sciences
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Assignment One (Essay Sample)

Instructions:
Dr. M. Haris First Major Writing Assignment Explication de Texte Spring 2011, Alfaisal University Due on Wednesday, October 19th, by 12 PM For the first major writing assignment, you are being asked to engage in an explication de texte or analysis de texte exercise with reference to five passages that have been selected from Chapter 1 of the Kleinman book, titled, “Science is Political/Technology is Social”. You are required to treat each passage in turn, producing a 250 word descriptive account. The total length of your paper should be 1250 words. “I believe two features of our discursive landscape – the realm of ideas, concepts, categories, and the many beliefs we take for granted – make it difficult to think critically about science and technology. I call these discourses scientism and technological progressivism.” (Page 3) “These examples are all legitimate cases of the social nature of technology. But they construe the social character of science too narrowly. I believe that technoscience is absolutely and thoroughly social. Even the idea that researchers cull truth from nature in an unmediated fashion is mistaken. We never look outside ourselves and see phenomenon through entirely na&#239;ve eyes. How we understand what we see – indeed, for all practical purposes, what we actually see – is shaped by a wide array of prior assumptions, commitments, worldviews, what have you.” (Page 6) “There are also cases where artifacts seem to literally embody values. Take, for example, the overpasses that cross Wantagh Parkway to Long Island, New York, and in particular to Jones Beach. Robert Moses, the designer responsible for these bridges, very consciously decided that they should be built at a height above the parkway that would make it impossible for buses to pass under them. This decision, according to Moses' biographer, reflected Moses's racial prejudice and social class bias. The low overpasses meant that while more well-to-do whites could use the parkway for commuting and to reach destinations along it for recreation, it would not be accessible for low-income citizens, many of whom were people of color, who needed to rely on public transportation.” (Page 10) “Social theory abounds with approaches to power. The way I find most helpful is to think in terms of structures, resources, and discourse. This three-fold distinction is analytical. In the world that humans inhabit – what we sometimes call the social world – the boundary between structures, resources, and 1 discourses is blurry at best. Still, understanding technoscience demands that they be disaggregated. At the most general level, I understand structures to constitute formal and informal, explicit and implicit “rules of play.” These entities define specific constraints and opportunities for actors depending on their location in a structural matrix. This matrix may be something as amorphous as the system of class or gender relations or as concrete as a national state or a university laboratory.” (Page 11) “A second point I need to make concerns the status of “social construction”. I believe, with many in the social sciences and humanities writing today, that the social world is constructed. But I differ with those who explore how, for example, gender, race, or science is constructed at the site “x”. I believe this is important work; however, it is also the case that our social world is relatively stable. At any given point in time, the already established features of the world- factors that have been constructed over time – serve to define the opportunities and constraints faced by actors. They shape actors' preferences and the outcomes of social struggles, politics, and programs.” (Page 13) Submission guidelines: As noted above, your papers are due on Wednesday, October 19th, at or prior to 12 PM. I would welcome both email and hard copy submissions of the paper. In order to send me your paper as an email attachment, please write the following in the subject line of your message – “Paper 1, Science, Technology, and Society Studies”. Note that late submissions are not acceptable. I welcome and encourage submissions of paper drafts (prior to the final submission deadline) for my review, comment, and suggestions. I will be happy to discuss your drafts with you by email, phone, or in a one to one meeting at the university. Style guidelines: Your paper must be type written, and for the sake of uniformity and consistency, you are required to abide by the following style guidelines for your work: Margins: 2.5cm (1 inch) all round Paper size: A4 Page numbering: Bottom right Orientation: Portrait 2 Line run: Left to Right Line spacing: single (1) for quotes, bio-data, reference & graphic acknowledgements Line spacing: one-and-a-half ( 1.5) cm for text Font: Calibri/Arial/Times New Roman 12pt for text Font: Calibri/Arial/Times New Roman 10pt (for tables, for graphic captions) Repetitive text spacing: <Tab> key Headings: Capitalized/ sentence case consistently applied and in <Bold> Paragraphing: Indented or block-form applied consistently throughout source..
Content:

Assignment One
Name:
Grade Course:
Tutor’s Name:
(October 18, 2011)
Assignment One
Society always has its characters that define it; technology and science come in as a great challenge since they have always come to explain what has been deemed superstitious. In the book “science and technology is society” it identifies two attributes that define the social landscape. Firstly, are the areas of ideas, conception and categories, and secondly, are the many ideas that society assume. The author describes them as scientism and technological progressivism (Kleinman, 2005). In the text the author tries to explain on the various issues that contribute to the change in society and things that will always be relied on to change the beliefs and traditions. Society will always group themselves in what they believe i.e. ideas and concepts such as religion, traditions, cultures and practices which can only best be described by science. Science in this case becomes political since it is controversial in explaining what people believe in. However, with the advancement in technology the barriers in society are bridged and it helps communities to understand development and progress if the collaborate in all aspects. Social circles have been made easy to bridge in view of the fact that technology has made communication easy, effective and efficient and hence political landscapes become more complex (Kleinman, 2005). In his view science is political in the sense that it is always controversial in that it explains issues and concepts through theories and abstract ideas. Many scientists have tried to proof on what people believe in and in this aspect created controversies since society tries to hold steadfastly on the faith and keep it.
In page six Kleinman, tries to clearly differentiate science from technology by first describing how science is an understanding of nature. In science the reader and the content are not connected but it is just a view of the truth. On the other hand he gives the examples of the social nature of technology; he also explains how science can become social since scientist can also be subject to fraud or misinterpretation (Kleinman, 2005). The scientists are also determined by the social stratification in that to be a scientist you have to belong in a certain class of society. Also those who fund scientists may willingly alter the findings to affect society. In merging technology and science you get techno-science and in explaining the two the science can be viewed as social; however it remains political because certain factors remain unhandled. These issues include the truth of the science on nature and the maneuvers of science to manipulate issues in society. The author tries to eliminate the idea that science and technology can be merged since both represent different ideas altogether. He says that science will only try to cull the truth through a fashion to change what people assume, view, and believe in ...
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